Those who live in Indiana, are likely to be quite familiar with the races that take place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Unfortunately, you may also be familiar with the likelihood of fans deciding to conduct their own races on the roads that they share with other drivers, motorcycles, and pedestrians. When people decide to race on a road where you are commuting from one location to another, they create a significant hazard for yourself, your passengers, and others on the road.
Racing is just one common cause of auto accidents in Indiana, but it is among the most irresponsible things that drivers can do. Such behaviors can include the dangerous acts of speeding and of driving aggressively. Also on the list of irresponsible driving behaviors that often cause auto accidents are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and driving distracted.
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed through someone else’s negligence on Indiana roads, then you need to understand how the law applies to recovering compensation. We will discuss some of the important information you need to have after an Indiana auto accident that causes injuries and damages to yourself or loved ones.
Indiana is a Fault Based State with Modified Comparative Negligence Rules
Among the most essential laws to understand when it comes to recovering compensation for your damages after an Indiana auto accident are those associated with fault and negligence. This is especially relevant to those who are unfamiliar with these concepts, those who are from another state, and those who have never been in an accident. If you fall into one of these categories, then you are unlikely to be aware of how the law applies to your accident claim.
For example, some states are no-fault states, so that it doesn’t matter who caused the accident; you turn to your own auto insurance policy, regardless of who was negligent. Other states, including Indiana, are fault based, so it does matter who was negligent. Whomever was not at fault for the accident can turn to the auto insurance policy of the driver who was at fault for the accident.
Of course, not all auto accidents are so simple. Multiple parties may be at fault, and this is where comparative negligence applies. There are many different ways to handle this. Some states have rules that don’t allow for any driver to recover compensation if that driver has any percentage of fault in the accident. Other states allow for drivers to recover compensation as long as they do not hold the majority of fault. In Indiana, the rule is based on modified comparative negligence, so that you can recover compensation as long as you are not more than 50% at fault for the accident. However, your compensation will be reduced based on your percentage of fault. If you are 51% at fault you get nothing even though the other driver is 49% at fault.
To illustrate this concept, if your damages amount to $5,000, but you are found to be 40% at fault for the accident, then your compensation will be calculated at 60% of the $5,000. You will receive $3,000, instead of $5,000. The 40% of fault that is assigned to you reduces your compensation by $2,000.
The exception to this rule is if the driver is an employee of a local, state or federal government entity and is operating the vehicle within the scope of his or her employment, then the law of contributory negligence applies. No fault can be assessed to you or you cannot recovery any damages from the other driver. The other driver must be 100% at fault to recover any damages.
The Statute of Limitations is a Legal Deadline for Filing an Auto Accident Claim
It is also essential for you to be aware that you must act fast to recover compensation for an Indiana auto accident. This doesn’t mean that you have to quickly accept a settlement (which is unwise), but that you have to get started on your claim as soon as you can. The reason for this is that there is a statute of limitations, or deadline, for filing an auto accident claim. If you don’t meet that deadline, then you have run out the statue of limitations. This means that you can’t file an auto accident claim past a certain date. Most auto accidents in Indiana will have a statute of limitations of two years from the date of the incident. If someone dies from injuries that were related to the accident, then the statute of limitations starts from the date of the person’s death.
If the case involves a driver who is an employee of a local, state or federal government entity, then a tort claims notice must be filed within 270 days of the accident or claim is barred. The tort claims notice is required to contain certain information according to Indiana law and that is why it is so important to have an attorney. If the tort claims notice is not filed or the notice is defective as to its contents, then an auto accident claim for damages cannot be made.
There are Limits to What You Can Collect in Compensation for Auto Accident Damages
Another key point to be aware of is that you cannot recover an arbitrary amount of compensation for your damages. The compensation that you seek must be directly related to the actual value of your economic damages and non-economic damages. Your economic damages are determined based on the actual value of your financial expenses and losses. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and anything else that can be calculated based on economic evidence.
The non-economic damages are more challenging to place a value on. These include things like your pain and suffering, psychological trauma, and lost quality of life. There are no set limits on how much you can recover for non-economic damages, but the value must be reasonably related to the severity of those damages. It is best to consult with an Indiana auto accident attorney to get an idea of what kind of value might be placed on your non-economic damages.
There is yet one more kind of compensation that you can seek in some auto accident claims, including those in which someone caused the incident through gross negligence. These are the punitive damages, or ‘punishment damages,’ for those whose behaviors were intentionally harmful or egregiously reckless and irresponsible. The punitive damages are limited to three times the amount of your other damages, or to $50K, depending on which of these numbers is greater. However, in Indiana, 75% of the punitive damage award goes to the State of Indiana, so the maximum amount you can recover for punitive damages in Indiana is $12,500.
Contact Rowe & Hamilton Attorneys at Law to Schedule a Free Consultation
You don’t want to make mistakes when filing an auto accident claim in Indiana, and it is very easy to do so. This is especially true if you aren’t an expert in auto accident claims and the laws that are relevant to your specific case. The determined Indiana auto accident legal team at Rowe & Hamilton are here to help. We have the experience and knowledge that you need to fully understand your case and recover the maximum amount of compensation for your claim. We’ll make sure that you don’t run out the statute of limitations and that a fair value is assigned to your economic, and non-economic damages. Call us today to schedule your free consultation and learn more about how we can help you succeed with your accident claim.